Get ready to meet the Everyday Heroes of Central Ohio.
After a bruising and polarizing election season, the Dispatch Media Group (DMG) was inspired to showcase 25 residents who quietly work to heal, unite and improve our communities.
So we put out a call for nominations to recognize members of the Columbus area whose extraordinarily selfless acts set them apart in these divisive times.
We received 118 recommendations and our panel of judges selected five finalists and 20 semifinalists.
To highlight their achievements, we created a special publication through the combined efforts of The Columbus Dispatch, ThisWeek Community News and Dispatch Magazines.
See below to learn their stories, from a 14-year-old girl who has led a drive to give away more than 40,000 books; a volunteer who’s served at a suicide prevention hotline for nearly 30 years; a woman who founded an organization to help families affected by childhood cancer; a former addict who aids people with addictions. And even a drag queen who has raised more than $1 million in charitable contributions.
Rarely has what they accomplished earned big headlines, but their collective works over time have made an immeasurable impact on countless lives, making a significant difference in our communities.
We salute them.
— Bradley M. Harmon, President
Dispatch Media Group
— Ray Paprocki, Publisher
* * *Meet the Everyday Heroes
Meagan Warren donates more than 40,000 books to children in need
Howard Warner's mission is just to help
Renna Schafler wants to save lives through hotline
Tricia Keels' 'Souper Heroes' initiative has contributed 100,000 meals to the local hunger relief
Corps leader Marshall Cheatham keeps kids marching forward
Cindy Rieman creates volunteer reading program to help elementary students
Michael Doody's garden feeds the neighborhood's soul
Donn Ditzhazy helps thousands with holiday wagon program
Georgeanna Haviland's nonprofit helps those with physical disabilities
Sue Wolfe makes a difference in fight against infant mortality
Joyce Guenther spends her birthdays giving the gift of life
Patti Bernett has led support group at jail for 14 years
Robert Shyrigh cleans his stretch of the world
Injury forces Peter Cline to change directions
Carol Haynes committed to 'putting broken pieces back together'
Death of son led Nicole Gnezda to life of service
Kenny Sipes serving coffee and helping the fight against hunger, human trafficking and more
Flying Horse Farms volunteer Sarah Kersey leads by example
Connie Swackhammer gives second chance to often-overlooked animals in need
Gabe Howard turns his own demons into compassion for the mentally ill
Vanita Nevis' project brings stability to inmates returning to society
Beth Fleshman opens doors and scissors for charity
Ellie Hite eases the worst kind of pain
Andrew Levitt's performances as Nina West have raised nearly $1 million for LGBT community
Talk with ailing brother inspires John Martin's long Special Olympics involvement